‘This story has finished:’ Bogota mayor expects to leave office Jan 30

Posted on Jan 23 2014 - 11:00am by Rico
Gustavo Petro

In what seems to be the conclusion of a two month battle to dismiss Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro from his position, the political leader announced Wednesday he will leave the mayorship in one week.

Petro took to Bogota’s famous Plaza de Bolivar Wednesday evening, and told a crowd of anxious Colombians that Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez will officially confirm the mayor’s dismissal on January 29.

“In eight days, the Inspector General, insulting and disrespecting the judge, will go through with his mandate [...] That is to say that on the 30th, this mayor exits through that door and stops being the mayor,” said Petro.

Technically still a suspension of Ordoñez’ call for dismissal in place by a judge from the central state of Cudinamarca, but Ordoñez has indicated he does not consider the ruling binding, and Petro seems to be taking him at his word. Now, barring an increasingly unlikely intervention from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CIDH) or President Juan Manuel Santos, Petro will be removed from office, after over a month of fighting.

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“We are in the final week, this story has finished,” concluded Bogota’s mayor.

Petro was initially ordered by the Inspector General to be dismissed from office late December 2013 over supposed “irregularities” in Petro’s 2012 decision to convert Bogota’s garbage removal contracts into public services. Despite claims that the private garbage contractors actively sabotaged the transition, the move was widely perceived as a political blunder for a still-inexperienced mayor, when trash collection froze for three days, allowing garbage to accumulate on the city streets.

For the past two months, however, the once-unpopular Petro has garnered incredible amounts of support, as many Colombians feel the punishment is unjust and politically motivated, and have taken to Petro’s characterization of Alejandro Ordoñez as a “religious fanatic” and his decision as a “constitutional coup” targeting the democratic rights of Bogota residents.

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In the midst of widespread protests, the Constitutional Court has indicated it will be re-evaluating the largely unchecked powers currently afforded the Inspector General’s Office.

At various points in the speech, Petro encouraged massive non-violent resistance and civilian dissent in face of his removal from office. He did not, however, devote much attention to the other aspect of Ordoñez’s ruling: a 15-year ban from political office.

While the CIDH is not expected to rule in time to prevent Petro’s ousting, many legal experts have indicated a decision striking down the ban is more likely, as the CIDH charter does not allow for political prohibition without due process.

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